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Long Island Pride on the Beach returning to Long Beach

David Abreu of Westbury, 16, walks onto the

David Abreu of Westbury, 16, walks onto the beach with a rainbow flag during the 2017 Long Island Pride festival in Long Beach. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

This weekend’s Pride on the Beach celebration is expected to draw a diverse rainbow of new marchers and spectators to Long Beach — from teens who have recently come out, to longtime friends of the LGBTQ community.

Among the first-time Pride weekenders will be Julia Limmer, 18, of Old Bethpage, who says she came out as queer last year after graduating from Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School.

“It makes me feel great that there are so many people who are accepting of who I am,” says Limmer, who expects her parents will join her to watch the parade.

Also a pride newbie: Prenda Lee, 38, of Bay Shore, a receptionist at the recently opened LGBT Network center in Hauppauge.

“I’m really looking forward to all the love that’s going to be shown” during Pride weekend, says Lee, who is heterosexual but has gay and lesbian friends.

In its third year in Long Beach, Long Island Pride’s appeal is expanding beyond the region’s LGBTQ community and its supporters, says David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network, which presents Long Island pride activities.

“We find that we’re bringing a lot more people to Long Beach” who aren’t members of the gay and lesbian community, Kilmnick says. “They see it’s a celebration of love and unity, and they want to become part of that.”

Kilmnick says Long Island Pride is also attracting out-of-town visitors, who are staying for next weekend’s New York City celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, which spurred the modern gay and lesbian rights movement.

To accommodate Pride daytrippers, the Long Island Rail Road is adding three trains and additional cars to and from Long Beach, according to LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan.

Once again, rainbow flags will be flying at downtown storefronts from Park Avenue to the city’s nightlife center on the West End, says City Council president Anthony Eramo. Restaurants and bars will be offering “A Taste of Long Beach” food and drink specials and hosting drag queen bingo nights.

“Long Beach is a very inclusive place, and we love celebrating diversity,” Eramo says.

Indeed, a premier part of the festival happens right on the sand, where entertainment includes a DJ spinning on Saturday and a Sunday afternoon concert on the beach starring Macy Gray and rapper Rob Base. You'll need a $15 nonresident daily beach pass to partake — or get a front-row seat with a VIP ticket into the festival's pop-up beach club ($90-$250 per day includes food and drinks).

Here are five other ways to enjoy Pride weekend in Long Beach: 

1. HIT THE FAMILY ZONE

Pride weekend’s new attraction invites kids to take Instagram photos with characters from the popular animated TV show, "PAW Patrol." It will be a carnival atmosphere with entertainment by stilt walkers and mimes, and areas for face painting, balloon art and temporary tattoos. Free admission, on the boardwalk between Long Beach Road and Riverside Boulevard.

2. SEE THE PARADE OF PETS

More than 150 pet owners will march with their dogs, cats, birds and other animal family members. New York Islanders mascot Sparky the Dragon will serve as the grand marshal, and two ducks dressed in tuxes and pride ties are expected to quack up the crowd again. Prizes will be awarded for best in show, and pet agencies will be on hand for questions about adoption. Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Long Beach Recreation Center gazebo, 700 Magnolia Blvd. 

3. GO TO CABARET NIGHT

A half-dozen local singers will set the musical mood by performing pop standards by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond — Broadway show tunes, too. Free admission, 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Long Beach Public Library, 111 West Park Ave.

4. SHOP THE MARKET

Looking to buy a rainbow flag for the front porch, or touch base with LGBTQ-friendly groups? More than 100 vendors at the fair will include nonprofit organizations, businesses and souvenirs and crafts sellers. The New York Mets will have a booth, and The Islanders Ice Girls will be chatting up the crowd before joining the parade. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, boardwalk between National and Edwards boulevards.

5. WATCH THE PARADE

A dozen floats and 75 different groups are participating in the parade, which moved to Long Beach three years ago after being held in downtown Huntington Village from 1991 to 2016. Among the marchers are members of high school Gay Straight Alliance clubs and Free Mom & Dad Hugs, a new support group for LGBTQ youth. Noon-2 p.m. Sunday, Broadway from Lafayette Boulevard to Long Beach Boulevard.

Pride on the Beach

WHEN | WHERE Friday-Sunday, Long Beach

INFO 516-323-0011, prideonthebeach.org

ADMISSION Boardwalk events are free. Nonresident daily beach passes cost $15.

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